Trains Through the Centuries
Of all modes of transportation, rail travel has been one of the most storied and captivating over its long history. It connects distant cities and vast geographical areas with an efficient way of moving goods and people. For many, the sound of a distant train captures the imagination and evokes travel, discovery and far-off places. The development of train travel has been a key part of the growth of nations, but it has never been easy to implement or administer. Around the world, jokes about the comfort and timeliness of train travel are nearly universal, with the notable exception of Germany and its brilliant train system.
Germans Rely on Their Trains
As one of Europe's larger countries, with many large cities, widely varied countryside and several distinct geographical areas, Germany is well suited for train travel. Since reunification in 1990, the German train system has seen organizational and infrastructure improvements which have created an extensive, integrated service reaching the entire country. Beautiful modern facilities like the Berlin Central Station usher travelers onto mostly new trains which keep busy schedules and are very punctual. For commuting, inter-city connections, high-speed and overnight travel the German train system (or Deutsche Bahn) is unmatched in Europe and most of the world.
Faster Than Flying or Driving
High-speed trains are one major component of the German rail system. Connecting far-flung major cities with reliable fast service, the high-speed trains are ideal for both business and tourist travel. The cities of Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt (including its international airport) are all connected by the Intercity Express, or "ICE" service. Trains depart at least every hour, and reach speeds of 186 miles per hour as they hurry passengers to Germany's farthest points in under three hours. Intercity Express trains include a dining car and available first class cars featuring wide leather seats and audio/video service.
Several other train lines connect medium-sized cities to the network, provide commuting service, and extend to smaller, outlying locales. CityNightLine is Germany's overnight train service. These trains offer private rooms as well as showers and bathroom facilities, and reach all of Germany as well as some cities in neighoring countries. For many budget travelers, this "hotel on wheels" provides accomodation as well as transportation, saving the cost of hotels or hostels.
Using the German Train System
Certain trains in the German system require advance reservations. Most lines maintain at least an hourly schedule of departures. Some also provide multiple trains with overlapping schedules and staggered stops, to increase coverage. With so many options, the ticketing process is potentially confusing; the purchase of a rail pass is a good way to avoid ticketing complications. A smart phone digital barcode reader app can also be used for paperless ticketing.
Berlin Central Train Station
The Berlin Central Train Station, or Berlin Hauptbahnhof, is the crown jewel of Germany's
train system. Opened in 2006, it is the largest train station in Europe and offers cutting-edge infrastructure and very efficient service in a clean, contemporary atmosphere. Some notable features are its soaring glass enclosures and train platforms built on a suspension system which dampens the noise and vibration of approaching trains. The station also centralizes many conveniences for travelers, including restaurant options, baggage consignment, wireless internet service, currency exchange, telephones, and a tourism office.
This article was contributed by Dillon Murphy, a freelancer who concentrates on automobiles, trains, the auto industry, and other related topics. Lately Dillon has taken a special interest in the domestic U.S. used car market; to learn more about this topic, view Dickinson Auto Sales, one of the premier Used Car Dealerships in Houston.